H is for Horouta.
The History of the Horouta Canoe, Gisborne and East Coast – By Rongowhakaata Halbert
Horouta is the definitive history of the descendants of the voyaging canoes that brought the first settlers from Polynesia to the lands that stretch from East Cape to northern Hawke’s bay. Assembled through painstaking historical and genealogical research over more than 70 years by Rongowhakaata Halbert and his family, this outstanding work of scholarship is destined to serve the needs of all New Zealanders, and especially the people of Gisborne and the East Coast, for generations to come.
About the Author: Rongowhakaata Pere 1894 – 1973
Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Rongowhakaata leader, interpreter, historian, genealogist
Rongowhakaata Pere Halbert was born at Waerenga-a-hika, near Gisborne, on 2 February 1894, the only surviving son of Hetekia Te Kani Pere (or Halbert), a farmer, and his wife, Riripeti Rangikohera Ranginui. He was of Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Rongowhakaata descent, and also of Te Whakatohea. He was the grandson of the politician Wi Pere, and the great-grandson of the early Poverty Bay trader Thomas Halbert and his fourth wife, Riria Mauaranui.
From 1940 Rongo Halbert devoted most of his life to studying the history and genealogy of Maori tribes, particularly those of the Gisborne, East Coast and Bay of Plenty regions. On the death of Sir Apirana Ngata in 1950, he was appointed a member of the Maori Purposes Fund Board. Described as an ‘equally competent scholar’ and ‘an eminent authority on Maori literature’, Halbert was part of the revision committee that produced the sixth edition of H. W. Williams’s Maori dictionary. He was an adviser on Maori texts for the Polynesian Society and assisted the New Zealand Geographic Board with Maori place names.
A founding member of the Gisborne Art Gallery and Museum in 1955, Halbert was the first chairman of the Maori Museum Committee, which advised on the establishment of its Maori collections. As chairman, he raised funds to have Henare Potae’s carved meeting-house returned to the East Coast from Canterbury Museum. He also served as secretary of the Tairawhiti Maori Association and was a member of the Waerenga-a-hika Trust Board. In particular, Halbert was an active supporter of the Whakatane and District Historical Society, his main contributions being papers on the dating of Maori genealogies, and the society’s first memoir, Te Tini o Toi.Rongo Halbert was the main Maori adviser to the Department of Education at Gisborne and to the Gisborne Borough (later City) Council; his expertise was especially sought in the correct spelling of place names, and providing names for new schools and places.
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